February 23, 2022 08:18
By ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republicans in the Florida House on Tuesday introduced a bill banning discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, dismissing criticism from Democrats who said the proposal demonizes LGBTQ people.
The measure, dubbed by opponents the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is now set for a final vote in the House after GOP lawmakers refused a series of Democratic amendments on Tuesday.
The proposal has drawn intense national scrutiny and was one of the final battlegrounds between the White House and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for re-election and is widely seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
DeSantis did not endorse the legislation, but earlier this month he said it was inappropriate for teachers to discuss students’ gender identity without parental input. After the governor’s comments, Biden called the proposal “hateful,” and the White House issued a statement saying the measure targets LGBTQ students.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Joe Harding, states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity may not take place from kindergarten in Grade 3 or in a manner that is not appropriate for the age or development of the students in accordance with state standards.A parent could sue a district for violation.
Harding argued that the bill would not prevent spontaneous discussions of the topics and said the legislation was intended to prevent a district from bringing them into the curriculum. Critics said the bill’s language is broad enough to apply at any level and could open districts to legal action from parents who believe any conversation is inappropriate.
During a debate on Tuesday about how a teacher should handle a question about a student with two mothers, Harding dismissed such concerns, saying, “The idea that somehow in this bill, we are preventing a teacher from having discussions with his students is simply wrong. ”
“Discussions about different types of families, maybe instruction about different types of families understanding gender and sexual orientation related to these students and going deeper into that part is exactly what we’re talking about,” he said. he declares. “Nowhere here do we eliminate a discussion of different types of families. I think that’s probably the biggest misquote on what the bill actually does.
Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, a gay Democrat, told lawmakers the bill was deeply personal and said it called LGBTQ people a taboo.
“What topics specifically relating to people like me, LGBTQ Floridians, are not appropriate to teach in the classroom? Are these topics about how LGBTQ people love each other? Are these topics about our marriages, which are legal in the United States and Florida, are they conversations about our families, or are they conversations about sexual activity? He asked.